An estimated 20% of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq develop PTSD and depression. As a result, many have a difficult time reintegrating into their everyday lives at home. They are less likely to show affection for their loved ones, have a lack of trust for their surroundings, struggle to sleep at night and often experience anxiety and fear.

While there are many outlets that can be utilized to work towards healing, we want to highlight one incredibly effective one. It has four paws, a wet nose, and endless amounts of love to share. Service dogs!

Service dogs are more like super heroes to veterans. Their playful and loyal presence has proven to reduce or eliminate suicidal thoughts, diminish mental breakdowns and even reduce the risk of a veteran turning to violence, alcoholism or drug use to cope with depression.

Often, Labradors and Golden Retrievers are trained to become service dogs as their loving nature helps to heal traumatized veterans who have become emotionally numb. Many service dogs can tell when their owner is sad, tense or just even a little frustrated and respond accordingly to provide comfort. Veterans also begin to feel a sense of purpose when they develop a communication strategy with their pup and can sleep easier at night in knowing their companion is there to stand watch.

The list of benefits that result from the presence of a service dog are endless! If you know of a veteran in your life that is struggling to cope, we highly recommend that you connect them to an organization like K9’s For Warriors so that they can continue their journey towards healing with a furry friend by their side.